Photo: LinkedIn/Shawn H. Wilson

Why would you leave a Fortune 500 for the nonprofit sector?

Since Crain’s Detroit first broke the story of my leaving Ford to lead the B&GCSM, this has been the number one question asked by media, friends, and colleagues alike. It has become my favorite question. I find myself scooting to the edge of my seat and tapping my foot in anticipation every time it’s posed to me.

When I recently sat down with Mark Lee, host of “Small Talk,” to discuss my new role, he wasted no time in going in! “So why would you leave Ford Motor Company Fund to lead a nonprofit?” he asked. Here’s my answer…

I’ll start with the obvious, it’s a return to my nonprofit roots. The majority of my career has been spent building youth development organizations and it doesn’t hurt that I, myself, was a Club kid growing up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. But that’s not why I decided to take this new role…at least not totally.

Bottom line, I’m a Social Entrepreneur. I love to build. I love a challenge and I love impact.

Social Entrepreneurs make professional decisions with our heads and our hearts. My heart was drawn to the impact, mission and opportunity to help shape the lives of 15,000 youth annually. And, my head and entrepreneurial spirit saw an opportunity to scale that number and re-imagine the brand of one of the most storied nonprofit organizations in the United States.

Photo: Urban Content Studios

Social Entrepreneurs have the ability see opportunity where others do not. Deep down we believe that one day we will be part of solving a major social ill. We’re not driven by money, power, or titles. We are driven by the need to be challenged, solve problems and learn.

The challenge currently facing the Boys & Girls Clubs is very similar to the challenge facing my previous employer, Ford Motor Company. They both must evolve or evaporate because what made them relevant and innovative yesterday, is not the same today. For a Social Entrepreneur, the opportunity to be part of transforming culture, innovating new products and services, and questioning and disrupting dated norms for greater impact is extremely attractive and too tempting to pass up!

Photo: Urban Content Studios

In the end, experience, along with the collective wisdom from many mentors over the years, has helped me to develop this understanding of who I am and what drives me. My career has been filled with eclectic set of professional experiences which include building a non-profit for a Grammy Award winning Artist, helping Professional Athletes define and launch their social missions, leading community engagement for Fortune 500 Companies, and innovating grassroots start ups. But, the consistent thread that unites them all is IMPACT. I am proud and humbled by the people, causes, and missions I’ve served throughout my career.

Click here to check out the Small Talk interview to hear more about my decision and plans for making the Boys & Girls Club of Southeast Michigan the premier youth empowerment organization in the Country!

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